I cried when Cory Monteith died, I admit it.
It's not really an admission at all, because that would imply that there is something wrong with it, and I don't think that's true.
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I've watched Glee since the beginning. I watched it when it could do no wrong, and I didn't quit it when the criticism started, even though I got frustrated with the storylines at times. And unlike some internet critics, I always loved Cory Monteith's Finn. He was flawed and a little bit dorky. He never seemed to know what to do next, but he bumbled his way into some rocking musical numbers, and into finally figuring out that he needed to step up and help Rachel do the hardest part of any relationship in transition -- the leaving part.
I have watched the "Furt" episode, wherein Kurt's dad marries Finn's mom, an absurd number of times, and every time Monteith's character walks up to Chris Colfer's Kurt and dances with him at their parents' reception to Bruno Mars's "Just the Way You Are," I cry again.
When reports of Monteith's death flooded Twitter on Saturday night, I was at first, like many fans, in simple disbelief. Death is jarring news in just about any circumstance, and the passing of a young, seemingly healthy person even worse. I hadn't followed his public storyline beyond the basics, and had no idea he'd recently been in rehab for substance abuse. I was so not in his business that I didn't even realize he was dating his "Finchel" co-star Lea Michele.
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So there I sat, a middle-aged lady in front of a computer a continent away, mourning the death of a guy who sang on my TV every week, and feeling real, actual sadness at his loss for him, his family, and Rachel's alter-ego, the girlfriend I hadn't even known he had.
I've said before that feelings felt about the loss of famous people in the culture can be real in ways that are not the same as those of close friends or family. We don't know them, but we kind of do, in a way that isn't easy to explain sometimes. Actors who fill beloved roles have long appeared as themselves on talk and awards shows, in magazine interviews and autobiographies. Our digital lives now mean that many are blogging and tweeting and Instagramming their lives to millions of fans daily, interacting on a level that previously wasn't possible.
Cory Monteith was one of those people. I knew him primarily on Twitter as a hockey guy -- a typically devoted fan of the Vancouver Canucks, who even got New Yorker girlfriend Lea Michele up to a game, decked out in the home team jersey. I loved his @CoryMonteith bio:: "tall, awkward, canadian, actor, drummer, person."
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The details of the story of his death don't so much matter to me. I could suppose a drug overdose, based on the reports of his life situation -- recent rehab, tweets of happiness when it was over and he was on vacation, the typical narrative of a young man's life lost in the wake of a gripping disease that sometimes comes back the worst just when you think you've beaten it. I know it too well, and I hate it, and I know it lies out there for many people as a possibility, no matter how successful, no matter how interested in beating it they are. Addiction is a killer and a chronic illness, and it's the lucky people who walk away from it, lives intact.
But really, what always matters in a sudden loss of life is the loss of the life itself. That it belonged to one of North America's most beloved fictional high school students, represented by the obviously well-liked 31-year-old man who played him, made it a little more surreal. Representatives of Glee -- executive producers, 20th Century Fox Television and Fox Broadcasting Company -- while no doubt also trying to figure out how to carry on with a show that in many ways revolves around Monteith and Michele as Rachel and Finn, released this statement:
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Cory was an exceptional talent and an even more exceptional person. He was a true joy to work with and we will all miss him tremendously.Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones."
Mark Salling, who played Puck, Finn's best friend on the show, tweeted:
going through a million memories and emotions today. ill love you always Brother Cory.
From Harry Shum, Jr., who plays dancer Mike Chang:
At this time, please send nothing but love and light. This tragic news still doesn't seem real to me. I love you Cory.
Finn is ultimately a high road sort of guy, a self-correcter and a bit of a hothead who wants the best for his family and friends, who learned how to care about people in a glee club he never dreamed he'd join until he did it. From all I've read and a certain look about his eyes that generally tells this truth about people, I like to think that Cory Monteith was the same kind of guy. He is most certainly gone too soon.
Contributing Editor Laurie White writes at LaurieWrites.
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